Review: [title of show]
WILL POPPLEWELL is blown away by an evening of entertainment from some of Cambridge’s finest.
[Title of Show] is a ridiculously meta production which follows the writers of the show, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, in the process of writing the show we see unfold before our eyes.
So it doesn’t really make that much sense. But it’s great, just roll with it.
Director Gabbie Bird has assembled a really impressive team to put on this rather particular show, showcasing four fantastic talents to create a fun and infectious spectacle that is perfect to lift us out of the Week 7 grind. The overriding tone of the show is fun, and the talented cast bring this out in true force.
Within the cast of four, each genuinely deserve a mention, and bring something individual to the show. James Daly and Joe Beighton, as the writers Hunter and Jeff, carried the show, compelling in almost every scene; where Daly brought vigour and vibrancy, Beighton brought passion and charm. Constance Chapman was a personal highlight with her infallible comedic timing (and those dance moves…).
Lily Parham, though, cracked out the most powerful performance of the night, deftly balancing wry humour with gravitas and a stage presence to demand the audience’s utmost attention. This said, the best moments were when these four talented individuals simply enjoyed the clear chemistry between them. When they got excited, so did we, and it was a treat to be included in their fun.
Moments of particular brilliance in the show include songs ‘Part of it All’ (when we truly hear the cast sing solo) and ‘Nine People’s Favourite Thing’. Most striking was the decision made that day to monologue ‘A Way Back to Then’, which brought real tears to both cast and audience. Here, Parham took a frankly average ballad and made it devastating.
Finally, a review of this show would not be complete without acknowledging the sheer brilliance that is Larry (Stephen Gage), the hilariously scripted-in pianist. Anyone familiar with the practice of repetiteurs in Cambridge will love this particular representation of the pianists’ struggle.
Vocally, the show was strong. Whilst there are few moments for each to shine individually – for this the writing of the show itself takes the most blame – all cast members do have a few moments of stand-out vocals, and when brought together in harmony they truly shine. Harmonies were consistently tight and well balanced; a particular challenge for small casts, which this production rises to with confidence.
It is worth mentioning that there are elements of the script itself that I found jarring. By and large the cast dealt with the disjointedness well, eking laughs out of dubious material; however, there were moments when this resulted in a slight lagging in the pace of the show.
This was particularly prevalent in some moments of dialogue; scenes were neither slow nor badly acted, they were simply less infectious than the songs which truly brought this show to life. It is a small point, but I personally would have been inclined to add a few targeted cuts and streamline the show.
The setting of the Corpus Playrooms, an intimate setting which matched the tone of the show perfectly, was transformed into a disneyland of musical theatre – as indeed is the entire script. I fought not to be swayed, but the plethora of posters (including cheeky references to past ADC productions) demanded my utter joy.
Anyone who likes musical theatre would love this show regardless of the cast and execution. Thankfully, the cast is excellent, and the energy in this show will carry you through to the end of term before you know it.